I forgot to mention: They keyboard came back to life. I guess something connected to the keyboard- the keyboard itself? some driver somewhere?- got a bit worn out with all that fixing I did yesterday, in some kind of collateral damage kind of way, and collapsed in exhaustion. I turned the desktop off and switched to the laptop for a few hours, and when I switched the desktop back on, all was right with the world.
Well, I defragged, I swept for viruses and spyware, I deleted or uninstalled a whole lot of unnecessary rubbish that was cluttering things up, and the situation has improved, but this desktop can still be slow and rather crunchy, especially when it's just started up, and for maybe an hour or two afterwards, slowly settling in to something approaching the way a modern computer is supposed to function.
By crunchy, I mean you can hear the hard drive crunching through what should be relatively easy functions, taking much longer to do anything than the laptop or the new work computer. Sure, this computer is older and has suffered some abuse and neglect at the hands of less competent former occupants, and I had to do a fair bit of cleaning and repair when I first moved in to get it functional. That repair involved the removal of two trojans and more spyware than I've ever seen gathered in one place, as just one example. But still, I'm disappointed that all that work I did yesterday has yielded such minimal improvements in this computer's functioning.
Oh well.And a fair part of this morning was spent with me pulling apart as completely as possible and lzh cleaning the parts of an old humidifier that we inherited. Just like our fan, it was showing very clear signs of having been used in super-dusty Beijing. We're testing it out now.